Alton in Madison County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
College Avenue Presbyterian Church and the Old Rock House
The Anti-Slavery Society Is Born
This is the third church to be built here since 1836.
The first church was made of stone and was built late in 1836 on the present site. The land and church's bell were donated by Enoch Long.
Elijah Parish Lovejoy was the first pastor from January 8, 1837 to November 7, 1837. On October 25th, 1837, Lovejoy held a meeting in the church to form the Anti-Slavery Society in Illinois. A near riot broke out. The meeting was moved across the street to the Old Rock House the following day. Less than two weeks later, on November 7, 1837, Elijah Lovejoy was killed at the warehouse of Godfrey, Gilman & Co. defending his fourth printing press. He is considered to be a martyr for freedom of speech.
The original church burned in 1858 and construction of a new frame building began at once.
Financial problems and the Civil War prevented the completion until its dedication on November 15, 1865. A newer and larger church was needed so this second structure was demolished and the church you see today was dedicated on November 27, 1927.
Across the street from the College Avenue Presbyterian Church
The first two anti-slavery meetings in Illinois were held here on October 26 and 27, 1837. The Anti-Slavery Society was formed with sixty members. Lovejoy was elected corresponding secretary. This house also served as a "station" on the "Underground Railroad".
The building originally had six dormer windows, but some time during the 1910's the dormers were replaced with the present concrete block addition. Other changes were also made through the years. Today, it is an apartment complex.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Abolition & Underground RR • Churches & Religion • Communications.
Location. 38° 54.205′ N, 90° 8.788′ W. Marker is in Alton, Illinois, in Madison County. Marker is at the intersection of College Avenue (Illinois Route 140) and Clawson Street, on the right when traveling west on College Avenue. Marker is in front of the Alton Physical Therapy building. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1719 Clawson Street, Alton IL 62002, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. College Avenue Presbyterian Church (within shouting distance of this marker); Elijah Parish Lovejoy (within shouting distance of this marker); John Mason Peck (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Robert Pershing Wadlow (approx. 0.2 miles away); Alton National Cemetery (approx. 1.3 miles away); The Cost of Freedom (approx. 1.3 miles away); a different marker also named Elijah Parish Lovejoy (approx. 1.4 miles away); Freedom's Martyr (approx. 1.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Alton.
Regarding College Avenue Presbyterian Church and the Old Rock House. As of November 2019, the College Avenue Presbyterian Church is permanently closed. In the Summer of 2015, it was announced that the church was for sale. This was due to membership decline, plus the expenses of upkeep and insurance. By November 2015, the church merged with The United Presbyterian Church (2550 Rock Hill Road in Wood River, Illinois). In September 2016, the church in Wood River was renamed LoveJoy United Presbyterian Church.
Also see . . . Marker spotlights Lovejoy sites in Alton. Published by the Alton Telegraph on November 8, 2013, which talks about this marker. (Submitted on January 22, 2020, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois.)
Credits. This page was last revised on January 23, 2020. It was originally submitted on November 15, 2019, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois. This page has been viewed 125 times since then and 12 times this year. Last updated on January 22, 2020, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on November 15, 2019, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois. • Devry Becker Jones was the editor who published this page.